Autumn Pest Alert

 In News

Autumn Pest Alert:
The Colors of the Season Include Yellow jackets, Ladybugs and flies and ants

For some, the first cool breezes of autumn signal the end of another summer and back-to-school. But for certain pests, it’s the time of year to become more aggressive and begin seeking out places to spend the winter. Here are some things to watch for as the days get shorter – and the pests get pestier.


Yellowjacket wasps often become a nuisance in late summer and autumn when they nest around homes, buildings and areas where people live, work and play. Although these wasps are considered beneficial because they feed on flies and caterpillars, they can build up in large populations and scavenge for meat and liquid sweets at picnics, county fairs, sports events, outside restaurants, bakeries and other locations. The yellowjacket’s aggressiveness and ability to repeatedly sting makes them a considerable health threat. Yellowjackets alone are responsible for about one half of all human insect stings.

Yellowjackets are commonly confused with honeybees. They are the same size, about ½ inch long, but yellow jackets are more brightly colored with definite yellow and black stripes and very little hair. Honeybees are more honey colored and covered with fuzzy hair. Yellowjackets live in underground nests in old rodent burrows, in woodpile, piles of brush, compost piles or hollow trees. In late summer the yellowjacket nest may contain several thousand wasps. New nests are started each spring.

Yellowjackets are attracted to areas with sweet food such as picnic areas and ice-cream stands. Open cans of garbage or unclean garbage cans are the biggest yellowjacket attractants. Also areas of rotting fruit such as around apple trees can produce high populations of yellow jackets. Since yellow jackets often crawl into soda cans unnoticed, people are frequently stung on the lips.

Ways to avoid yellow jackets include:

  • Avoid rapid movements – never swat at or squish a yellowjacket. Squashing a yellowjacket releases a chemical that signals other wasps in the area to attack.
  • Don-t wear perfumes or other scents, including scented hair spray or deodorants.
  • Avoid wearing brightly colored and patterned clothing.
  • Don’t go barefoot.
  • When outdoors, drink from cups with lids.
  • Avoid shiny buckles and jewelry

Yellowjackets will not bite or sting a person unless they or their nests are agitated by fast movements, stepped on or sat upon. However they may land on your skin to take a drink of sweat or inspect a smell. Just be patient and they will fly away or lure them away with a bit of your food. If you can’t be that patient, very gently brush them off with a piece of paper with slow deliberate movements. The same method should be used if a yellowjacket makes its way into your car.

Yellowjacket traps can be useful. Sometimes just putting a little meat or fruit in a dish far from your activities is enough to draw them away. However, keeping garbage cans clean and covered, keeping outdoor food areas clean and removing rotting fruit is still necessary to keep yellow jackets in check.

Here are more tips for dealing with yellow jackets:

  • Watch for wasps flying into and away from a single point in your yard or garden or to a hole in the side of the house or under the eaves. This can indicate where a colony might be located.
  • Loud, vibrating lawn equipment, such as edgers, trimmers and mowers disturb yellow jackets and may cause them to swarm and attack.
  • If you locate a nest of yellow jackets, stay away and don-t disturb the nest until you are prepared to effectively remove or destroy it. Better yet – call Anderson and let our professionals safely handle the problem.

If yellow jackets are seen entering and exiting a wall, DO NOT plug the hole. You will only force the wasps to find another way out. Sometimes they might actually eat through an interior wall and enter the house. A yellowjacket nest around the home requires professional control measures. Remember bees and wasps are important pollinators so indiscriminate destruction of their nests should be avoided. If you find a nest on your property, call Anderson.

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home – but not my home

Ladybugs are good bugs – when they’re outside. In the garden they eat a wide range of insects, including aphids and scale, effectively protecting your roses, shrubs and trees. But as the weather grows colder, ladybugs start migrating and looking for a place to hibernate. And when they enter our homes they quickly lose their title as good bugs. Besides being a nuisance indoors, ladybugs can and do bite. Although they have no venom, the bite hurts and can leave a red mark.

Technically, lady bugs are actually lady beetles. And though there are several species of lady beetles in the Midwest, one is giving the rest a bad name. Asian multicolored lady beetles are migrating now and eyeing your house as a winter retreat.

The Asian lady beetles are one fourth inch long and are the VW bug dome shape. They usually have orange wingcovers with 19 black spots. No need to count the spots. Their multicolored name comes from the variety of color possibilities ranging from tan to red and the spots may be very small to absent, to large and obvious.

In their native areas in Japan, the Asian multicolor ladybugs spend the winter in cracks and crevices of cliffs. Cliffs are tough to find in the Midwest, so what is the next best upright thing around- Our homes of course. They are particularly attracted to light colored structures, usually older homes, with sunny exposures where they congregate in large herds on the sides of buildings. They wander around and enter buildings through cracks between siding, around windows, around roof flashing and overhangs. Or they may fly through doors as people go in and out or ride in on people-s clothing. And once inside they are hard to get rid of.

Ladybugs release pheromones, it is sort of like “perfume” to attract other ladybugs. They use pheromones as a means of communication during mating and hibernation. Insect pheromones are very powerful. They can be detected by others up to a 1/4 mile away. This helps ladybugs find each other and it lets future generations know of a good place to “camp out” for the winter. The pheromones don’t go away easily. The chemical “scent” can remain year after year, and not only on the outside of a structure, but also within the walls, where ladybugs tend to hide before emerging into your home. Scrubbing pheromones off a house is a big task, if not impossible.

If there is no heating in the building, the beetles just snuggle together and wait for spring. In heated buildings especially on bright sunny days they may start flying around trying to escape. These eventually die on the windowsill. Controlling these insects indoors consists of vacuuming them as you see them or catching them and tossing them outside. Soon they will all have gone outside one way or the other.

The good news is ladybugs don’t reproduce or feed while they are indoors. They don-t eat fabric, plants, paper or any other household items. While trying to hibernate in your house, ladybugs live off their own body fats.

Insecticide sprays are likely to have little to no effect on hard-shelled insects that are not feeding unless you get lucky and happen to drown a few. Preventing ladybeetles from entering is the best control measure. Caulking cracks and crevices around windows, along the foundation and around doors will help reduce the numbers that can make their way indoors in the fall.

Ants Marching…

Ants Marching by Dave Matthews Band is a fun song to listen to. But ants marching into your home to spend the winter is no fun at all.
Ants are one of the most common pests in and around homes in the Midwest. Ants have a wide variety of nesting habits and food preferences. Some ants build nests in soil, producing characteristic mounds while others nest in homes behind moldings, baseboards, countertops, and similar places. Still other ants nest in decaying or moisture damaged wood.

Many ants enter homes from outside nests as they forage for food. To find their nest, follow the ants. You can encourage foraging by setting out attractive food. Ants usually take regular routes to and from their nest and the food source by establishing a chemical (pheromone) trail. The nest may be found by watching where the ants go; for some ants, such as carpenter ants, this works best at night. If the nest is discovered, it can be treated or removed (in the case of rotted wood).

Damage from ants varies. Most are primarily a nuisance and cause little damage. Some, such as Pharaoh ants, may infest food. Others, like carpenter ants, can weaken wood in structures. Generally, there are no disease problems associated with ants. In hospitals, Pharaoh ants can transmit disease organisms, such as Staphylococcus.

Outdoor nests can be very difficult to eliminate without chemicals. Using water to flood nests is usually not effective. Use of gasoline also is ineffective and dangerous and causes environmental pollution. Repeated drenchings of a nest with an insecticidal soap solution is sometimes effective in forcing an ant colony to relocate. There is no scientific evidence that spearmint gum, red pepper, orange peels, or various herbs repel ants effectively. Remember you must kill or relocate the queen to manage an ant colony.

When ants become a problem, it-s best to call a professional. Anderson has the training and decades of experience necessary to eliminate ant infestations and return peace to your home or office.

The following are descriptions of common household ants that are likely to head indoors during the autumn season:

Common Household Ants

Carpenter Ants

Description: Some species of carpenter ants are the largest ants in the north central states. They are black, or red and black; workers range in size from 3/16 to 1/2 inch. Colonies consist of major and minor workers.

Foods: Other insects, both living and dead. They also feed on meats or sweets, including honeydew, syrup, honey, sugar, and jelly. Carpenter ants DO NOT eat wood; they chew wood into sawdust in the process of creating galleries and tunnels.

Nesting Sites: All types of moist or rotting wood, including trees or tree stumps, indoors behind bathroom tiles; around tubs, sinks, showers, and dishwashers; under roofing, in attic beams, and under subfloor insulation; in hollow spaces such as doors, curtain rods, and wall voids; and in soft polystyrene and other forms of insulation. Carpenter ant tunnels are clean and smooth, making the wood appear that it has been sandpapered. In contrast, termite tunnels are not clean looking, but are packed with dirt like material.

Mating Swarms: April through June. Occasionally swarms may emerge indoors earlier during late winter on warm, sunny days.

Cornfield Ants

Description: Cornfield ants are very abundant outdoors. They are light to dark brown; workers are about 1/10 inch long.

Foods: Sweets, including honeydew (they are sometimes found feeding on honeydew from insects infesting houseplants) and live and dead insects.

Nesting Sites: In soil, forming small craters, especially in lawns. They also nest in soil under stones, bricks, sidewalks and other concealed sites, as well as rotting logs and stumps. They rarely nest in homes.

Mating Swarms: July through September, especially on sunny afternoons.

Larger Yellow Ants (Citronella Ants)

Description: These ants give off a pleasant citronella or lemon smell when crushed. Yellow ants are yellowish to reddish brown; workers are about 3/16 inch long. Workers do not come indoors for food and are rarely seen. They are most commonly seen when the reproductives swarm in homes. Queens are about 5/16 inch long and often reddish and darker.

Foods: Honeydew, rarely other sweets.

Nesting Sites: In soil under stones, logs, bricks, patio blocks, concrete and other concealed areas. They also can nest in rotting wood. Yellow ants can nest in and around foundation walls and in soil under buildings on slab construction. Workers may be seen throwing out dirt or cement particles, but they do not damage masonry or wood.

Mating Swarms: April through September. Swarms are also common indoors during winter if ants are nesting under heated concrete slabs.

Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are an imported species, probably from the tropical regions of Africa. They have readily spread through the world along commerce routes. Although they can nest in any heated building in the north central states, Pharaoh ants are most commonly found in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and apartments. Seeing persistent numbers of very small ants during winter suggests Pharaoh ants.
Description: Pharaoh ants are light yellow to red with their thorax darker colored; workers are about 1/16 inch long.

Foods: They feed on a wide variety of foods, especially those containing grease or fats. They also feed on many types of sweets, dead insects, toothpaste, soap and other foods that other ants rarely attack. They often seek out water in kitchens and bathrooms.

Nesting Sites: Pharaoh ants nest strictly indoors in the north central states; because of their tropical origins, they do not survive outdoors. They take advantage of their small size and nest in a wide variety of small spaces, cracks and crevices, including behind countertops, baseboards, in wall voids, and many other small voids. They often nest near dark, warm sites and near sources of moisture. Pharaoh ant nests are very difficult to find.

Mating Swarms: Pharaoh ants, unlike most ants, do not have a mating swarm but produce new nests through a process called budding. When the colony becomes too large or is under stress, a group of workers take brood (i.e. larvae and pupae) and move to a new site. One or more queens often go with them to the new nest.

Management: Elimination of Pharaoh ants is difficult and the service of an experienced pest management service is recommended. Insecticides can cause Pharaoh ants to bud, creating new colonies. The use of baits is strongly recommended. Baits available to the public usually are not effective against Pharaoh ants. Professional pest management services have the experience and access to effective baits needed to successfully eliminate Pharaoh ants.

Thief Ants

Also referred to as grease ants, thief ants are the smallest household ants in the north central states. Thief ants are so named because of their habit of nesting near the nests of larger ants and stealing their larvae. They often have well defined trails.
Description: Thief ants are easily confused with Pharaoh ants. Identification is very important before pest management steps are taken and it is best to have these ants identified by an expert. Thief ants are yellow to light brown; workers measure about 1/20 inch long. They have a tendency to curl up when they die.

Foods: Prefer protein and greasy foods, such as meats, cheese and peanut butter, and nuts, but will also eat sweets. They are small enough to enter almost any type of food container.

Nesting Sites: Thief ants commonly nest in soil and rotting wood. They can nest indoors in small spaces, such as under countertops, in wall voids, cabinet voids, behind baseboards. Nests are often difficult to find.

Mating Swarms: July through September.

Management: Thief ants are especially common during mid to late summer when they enter homes from outside nests. Locating and treating nests is not practical. Treat the building perimeter when thief ants are foraging into buildings from outside nests. When nests are located indoors, baiting is the most effective management method.

Pavement Ants

Description: Pavement ants are reddish brown to black; workers are about 1/8 inch long.
Foods: Variety of foods including meats, pet food, sweets, bread, nuts, and insects.

Nesting Sites: In soil under sidewalks, driveways, stones, logs and other concealed sites. Also commonly found under homes with concrete slab construction; ants enter homes through cracks in the concrete.

Mating Swarms: May through July. When the nest is under a heated slab foundation, swarms can also occur indoors during winter.

Management: Look for and treat outdoor nests. When the nest is not found, treat the building perimeter with a residual spray. When pavement ants are nesting under heated concrete slabs, baiting is the most effective control tactic. Use commercially available baits effective against grease-feeding ants.

The Anderson Solution

Completely eliminating ants from your home and property is no job for amateurs. Most do-it-yourself ant control approaches only kill the ants you see. Without penetrating and destroying the nests, both inside and outside the home, it’s almost certain that the ants will return.

If ants are marching on your home, call Anderson. Our trained and experienced technician will:

  • Identify the type of ant or ants causing the problem.
  • Conduct a full property inspection that includes your yard, attached and detached structures, driveway and home
  • Apply a barrier treatment outside your foundation to protect your home during the warmer months.
  • Safely apply bait gels and dusts for interior nests.
  • Directly treat nests on the outside of the property.
  • Seal small common entry points if they are contributing to the infestation.
  • Create a full report describing the treatment and how you can protect your home from further infestations.
Fly Problems

Fly problems can have serious consequences for a wide variety of businesses, from restaurants and food manufacturers to hospitality and healthcare. Some of the unfavorable results of poor fly control can include:

  • creating a poor impression – and the perception of a dirty establishment
  • damage to health and hygiene reputation, which can lead to…
  • reduced income from fewer customers
  • potential legal costs for failure to comply with legislation and regulations governing fly control.

Excluding and controlling flies requires diligent effort on the part of management, combined with a comprehensive approach in partnership with an experienced pest management company. Anderson Pest Solutions can customize a fly control program to suit the specific needs of your business. Anderson’s fly control services include:

  • Educating your staff on proper sanitation practices
  • Identifying areas where exclusion efforts, including screening, caulking, and weather stripping, may be necessary.
  • Performing drain cleaning applications
  • Exterior treatment
  • Installing insect light traps (ILTs)

A fly infestation is a serious problem requiring a professional solution. Call Anderson at the first sign of fly trouble and we’ll “fly” right over to investigate the problem.

Fly Facts:

  • The life expectancy of a fly is from eight days to two months, or in some cases, up to a year, depending on the species.
  • There are more than 16,000 species of flies in North America.
  • More than 100 pathogens are associated with the house fly including: Salmonella, Staphylococcus, E. coli and Shigella. These pathogens can cause disease in humans and animals, including: typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery, hepatitis, ophthalmia, polio, tuberculosis and infantile diarrhea.
  • Flies are found in every part of the world except the polar ice caps.
  • One pair of flies can produce more than 1 million offspring in as little as six to eight weeks.
  • Flies are one of the most efficient carriers of disease because they move quickly from rotting, disease-laden garbage to exposed human foods and utensils.
  • Flies have only two wings, which means they need to land often, enabling them to deposit thousands of bacteria each time they land.
  • According to sources at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, flies contaminate or destroy $10 billion worth of agricultural products each year.
  • For every fly that you see, there are as many as 20 that you don’t. If you think you have an infestation, it’s probably worse than you suspect.

Fly Control Tips

  • Clean drains where food and water can collect.
  • Install good weather-stripping on all edges of doors and windows.
  • Clean and maintain outside dumpster areas and keep trash in plastic bags.
  • Keep trash as far from the building as possible to keep flies away from your building.
  • Install screens on all windows and self-closing devices on doors.
  • Keep doors and windows closed whenever possible.
  • When flies get to be a problem, call Anderson!

Effective summer pest control is part of Anderson’s pestfree365 protection treatment plan ensures your home and family is protected year round from over 36 different pests that appear with each new season.